Ben Sawyer: the local Cronulla bodyboarder claimed the prestigious Shark Island Challenge for the first time | Photo: SIC

Ben Sawyer has taken out the 2024 Shark Island Challenge in Cronulla, near Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

The prestigious bodyboarding competition returned to the shallow waters of Cronulla after its last run six years ago.

The much-anticipated event attracted the world's best bodyboarders, including Jacob Romero, Jase Finlay, Tanner McDaniel, Lewy Finnegan, Pierre-Louis Costes, Jeff Hubbard, Jared Houston, Lily Pollard, Mike Stewart, Dave Winchester, and many other well-known names.

There was even a surfer - Noa Deane - competing among world champions and slab-riding specialists.

Shark Island delivered the goods, even though not at an epic level, mainly due to a perfect misalignment between wind and swell.

Nevertheless, it was exciting to watch a contest held by a team of committed riders and sponsors in six-to-ten-foot surf, provided by a low pressure system originated in Tasmania.

Local Knowledge Pays Off

The competition featured five-athlete heats, with the top two advancing to two semifinal matchups and the final.

The online broadcast was hugely successful, featuring live commentary, interviews with heat winners, multiple cameras, and drone shots.

Thousands of fans and spectators followed the reef break showdown from the Cronulla Esplanade; others got a privileged view from the break's channel.

The jet ski crew made sure the light injuries sustained were quickly addressed, keepin all riders safe and sound in and out of the water.

The final showcased four local specialists (Andrew Lester, Ben Sawyer, and Marli Dunn) and an outsider (Michael Ostler).

Sawyer claimed the top spot and his maiden Shark Island Challenge crown, followed by former champion Andrew Lester, Ostler, and Dunn.

The winner also won the Best Barrel award.

The Shark Island Challenge was first run in 1997, and since then, it has become a symbol of extreme bodyboarding in heavy conditions.

Hopefully, the iconic event will continue alive and pumping.

2024 Shark Island Challenge | Final

  1. Ben Sawyer
  2. Andrew Lester
  3. Michael Ostler
  4. Marli Dunn


Words by Luís MP | Founder of SurferToday.com

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Ben Sawyer has taken out the 2024 Shark Island Challenge in Cronulla, near Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.